American Bit Brace Co.  Buffalo, NY

The American Bit Brace Co. was created in Buffalo, NY by Ansley D. White about 1888.  The company survived through 1892, at least.  White had been a former partner of Charles Amidon in the firm of Amidon & White that operated in Buffalo from 1883 to 1887.  In 1887 Amidon forged a new partnership with Walter Bastedo, and Ansley White left to found the American Bit Brace Co.  Amidon & Bastedo occupied the same building as Amidon & White at 135-137 Main Street, while the new American Bit Brace Co. moved to 122- 126 Washington St.   In addition to making "fine tools" the company advertised providing nickel plating services.  Nickel plating was also a product/service provided by Amidon & White, and its successor, Amidon & Bastedo--but not by earlier Amidon-related companies.  Ansley White may have introduced that technology to the company line. (Advertisement from an early Buffalo city directory was kindly provided by Joel Havens).

 I  have a sleeve brace marked, "American Bit Brace Co. on the chuck shell, and "No. 2708) on the lower bow.  It is an 8 inch sweep.  The brace has characteristics that revert to Amidon products--mainly curvaceous swaged retaining rings holding the wrist handle, and notably "fat" wrist handle.  I know of at least three other braces similar to this one, and all of them (including mine) are reported to have the patent date, "Oct. 13, 1888" stamped on the chuck shell.  This is not a valid date, and no brace patent relating to it has been found. 

However, when the details of the chuck on this brace are examined, it is clear that the jaws are distinctly those that were described in a patent (No. 392062) issued to Johannes T. Pederson of Brooklyn, NY on October 30, 1888.  The clinching fact is that Pederson assigned this patent to the American Bit Brace Co.   The jaws have hemispherical bases, that fit into rounded recesses in the chuck core.  So it appears that the odd Oct 13, 1888 patent date may have been a "typo" when stamped at the factory.  Pederson's patent rates a Pearson's "A" for rarity.

Pederson also received a patent on Oct 2, 1888 (No. 390516) for a ratchet mechanism applicable to tool handles and brace chucks.  This was also assigned to the American Bit Brace Co, but has not been reported as having been seen.

The American Bit Brace Co. made a ratchet brace incorporating the Lewis C. Wilcox  patent of May 27, 1890 (No. 428984 and assigned to the American Bit Brace Co.).  My example of this brace is another 8 inch sweep one (marked No. 2608).  The Wilcox name and patent date is marked on the ratchet housing below the ring selector.  The chuck shell is marked, "American Bit-Brace Company, Buffalo, N.Y. Patent Applied For."  Perhaps there is yet another patent pertaining to the American Bit Brace Co.

Another example of the Wilcox patent in an American Bit Brace Co. product has emerged.  This one is a sleeve brace (marked, No. 1110), in nearly new condition, clearly marked with the patent date on the chuck shell.  The jaw mechanism on this one, however, is slightly different from the one above.  The ratchet brace above has the hemispherical ends of the jaws fitting into circular mortises in the chuck tube extension.  In the newer find, the tops of the jaws are machined to slip into open mortises near the ends of the extension.  It is an interesting variant.



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